Elizabeth Alexander – poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate – is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education. Dr. Alexander has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University, where she taught for 15 years and chaired the African American Studies Department. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board, and co-designed the Art for Justice Fund. Notably, Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, and is author or co-author of fourteen books. Her book of poems, “American Sublime,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2006, and her memoir, “The Light of the World,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 2015.
"Poetry is what you find in the dirt in the corner, overhear on the bus, God in the details, the only way to get from here to there."
Investor & Philanthropist
Founder, Equal Justice Initiative
Former U.S. Secretary of the Army
Author & Journalist
Historian & Author
President, Ford Foundation